iMac: CD or DVD Not Recognized on Desktop

This article describes what steps to take if an iMac occasionally fails to recognize a compact disc (CD) or digital video disc (DVD) when inserted. The CD or DVD disc icon does not show on the desktop.

While a hardware failure with the iMac is possible, you must first be sure that this is not a system software issue, or an issue where the CD or DVD is being placed in the drive incorrectly.

Because the CD-ROM drive is different from other Macintosh computers, the disc needs to be:

  • Snapped down completely over the three metal nubs on the CD drive spindle.
  • Label side of the CD or DVD should be visible (facing up) when the CD is in the CD tray.
  • Verify the correct type of disc is being used for the type of drive (a CD-ROM or CD-RW drive reads CD discs only, a DVD-ROM or Combo drive reads CD or DVD discs.)
  • Try cleaning the disc.
  • Try a different disc.


When the disc is correctly placed on the spindle, spinning the CD with your finger will produce a rotation of the disc that is level (not wobbly).

This article has been archived and is no longer updated by Apple.

To determine whether this is a Mac OS system software issue, start up from the System Restore CD or the System Software CD which comes with your iMac. If you can start up from either CD, the hardware is most likely functioning properly. At this point you can address the computer's system software with the following steps:

    1. Open the Extensions Manager control panel, and make sure the Apple CD-ROM extension is turned on (check mark appears next to extension).
    2. Perform extensions troubleshooting to make sure this is not an extensions conflict.
    3. If not, custom remove and reinstall the CD-ROM software using the System Software CD.
    4. If this fails, perform a restore in place of the system software.
    5. If this fails, perform a clean install of the system software.


If you continue to experience difficulty getting the CD or DVD to be recognized, have your iMac looked at by an Apple-authorized service provider.

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